Single Review: The Saturdays – ‘My Heart Takes Over’

“The amount of emotion that actually gets past the filters of auto-tune and nonchalance between singer and listener is very debatable”

3 STARS

Digital Release: November 13, 2011

Physical Release: November 14, 2011

You have to hand it to Simon Cowell and The X Factor bosses, because they really know how to market a girl-group. Or at least, somewhere between the hopeless GirlBands and Belle Amies they’ve learnt how to market a girl group. There’s practically nothing we don’t know about the four of them, though I’d hasten to add the majority of people still call them the blonde one, the one with the voice, the red head and the fat one, but apparently we’re not allowed to call her ‘the fat one’, because this makes her upset and her name is Jesy. But the strange thing is, that even after nearly three years on the scene, The Saturdays are still a very anonymous bunch of girls with barely distinguishable voices. Like most girl-groups, there’s ways of telling who’s who when they’re singing solo, but it’s the same drab, characterless tone that stops them from being readily identified as Una, Rochelle, Mollie, Frankie and Vanessa that also prevents ‘My Heart Takes Over’ from sounding as recklessly emotive as it’s title would suggest.

The song isn’t reckless nor emotive in the slightest. At first glance it has a strictly regimented structure and is sung with ice cold detachment, and when you look further into the song you realise it’s still strictly regimented in structure and sung with nigh-on indifference, and were it not for Vanessa’s vocal ad-libs towards the end, ‘My Heart Takes Over’ would just come across as a very calculated, very rehearsed song. Instead it just sounds rehearsed. In typical pop ballad-style, there’s a lovely piano twinkle throughout and some tripping, spongey beats, a dabble of vocoder and a pleasant synth swelling, but the girls just don’t seize the chance to do much other that sing the lyrics with all kinds of niceness, giving no impression any of them are taking the lyrics to a personal level and giving to the listeners what the song means to them, which, when there’s five girls’ experiences with love to choose from, is quite the wasted opportunity.

This is the biggest issue with ‘My Heart Takes Over’. It’s not the blasé delivery or the basic production: it’s simply that there’s no distinguishing between the five girls because they all sing from the perspective a girl-group wanting to sell singles to their listeners, rather than five girls feeling the lyrics. Just look at the single cover – they’re all manufactured and re-touched to make each of them appear eerily similar to the other four, and this is a problem for the album cover too. It’s like they‘re saying they want to be expressionless and stripped of their individuality. ‘My Heart Takes Over’ isn’t a terrible attempt, no, as there’s evidence that they try to provide their listeners, but the amount of emotion that actually gets past the filters of auto-tune and nonchalance between singer and listener is very debatable.

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